With the goal of increasing readiness and homeland security awareness, the Oklahoma City (OKC) Post hosted a Readiness Homeland Security Workshop entitled The Role of Homeland Security 10 Years after 9/11. The event was held in the Oklahoma State Capitol Rotunda, located along Lincoln Blvd. in Oklahoma City.
The workshop started with a briefing on SAME’s readiness mission by OKC Post Readiness Chair Ivan Quate. Next, attendees visited the Oklahoma Office of Emergency Management, where Kim Edd Carter, Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security (OHS) Director, gave a presentation on OHS' role in fighting and preventing terrorism.
Carter explained that the state of Oklahoma is no stranger to terrorism. The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was bombed April 19, 1995, resulting in a death toll of 168 people, which included 19 children. This incident, also known as the Oklahoma City Bombing, happened six years before the al-Qaeda attacks in New York City and Washington D.C. occurred. During his presentation, Carter discussed OHS' goal, three strategic objectives and three major focus areas. Workshop attendees also learned about OHS' regional response system, which includes a vast array of specialized units including bomb squads, search and rescue units, CBRNE (chemical, biological, radioactive, nuclear and explosive) units, decontamination trailers, foreign animal disease units and regional emergency medical services systems. Carter emphasized the importance of readiness and said OHS strives to increase public awareness and preparedness to keep Oklahoman’s as safe as possible from all types of terrorism attacks.
The workshop agenda also included a tour of the Oklahoma State Emergency Operations Center (EOC). EOC is operated by the Oklahoma Office of Emergency Management (OEM) and was built in 1963 in response to the Cuban Missile Crisis. EOC sits 25 ft below ground under three ft of steel-reinforced concrete with steel-reinforced concrete walls. There is a back-up EOC located in Oklahoma City, where operations can be conducted if the main center is not operational, and two other EOCs located elsewhere in the state.
As the last part of the workshop, Michelann Ooten, Deputy Director for the Office of Emergency Management, provided an informational briefing on the function and mission of OEM. Ooten stated that in addition to operating the EOC, OEM also supports 911 local emergency management programs, assists with Emergency Operation Plans, disaster training and provides public education and information programs.
Trudi Logan, OKC Post President, says that the 2011 Readiness and Homeland Security Workshop was interesting, informative and succeeded in raising awareness of security issues sensitive to all Oklahomans.